Finding new nutrition news and research has always been interesting to me even before my academic career at college. It is always a treat for me to read about the latest technology or experiments that have been done to help figure out things about the body.
The faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen recently did research on mice that they fed a very fatty diet to, but stayed slim. How exactly did this happen? Well with a little bit of genetic modification, they were able to delete a certain enzyme found in fatty tissue called NAMPT, thus making the mice resistant to even becoming overweight or obese when eating fatty foods. NAMPT is an enzyme that gives many functions to the body, including fat tissue function.
The researchers gave the mice with the deleted NAMPT enzyme (along with a control group) a fatty diet equivalent to if they were eating burgers and pizza all the time. They did also first give a healthy diet to both groups of mice as well to compare, and found that body weight and fat in the mice did not change in either group. When given the high fat diet, the control group became very obese, but the experimental mice lacking the NAMPT enzyme had stayed exactly the same and didn’t gain any weight. They surprisingly were also able to control their blood glucose levels better than the control group.
While other studies have shown a strong correlation with high amounts of NAMPT being in stomach fat tissue and blood of those overweight and obese, there can be some downsides or risks to trying out this studies goal on humans. This study is the first showing of evidence that the NAMPT enzyme is required for animals to become overweight or obese, and depleting it from the body can be a way to prevent obesity from occurring.
However NAMPT is too useful of an enzyme in the body for other tissue function like the liver and skeletal muscle system, so it would be inevitable that there would be some side effects to completely taking it out of the body or decreasing it.
Associate Professor Zachary Gerhart-Hines (from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research) gave his thoughts on the study saying that generally decreasing NAMPT may not be a viable treatment option or strategy for humans. It can possibly pose a greater threat to other tissues of the body and their functions. I don’t think humans would be that thrilled about being able to prevent obesity but have other health consequences because of it.
Overall, this study showed the biological process of how humans can become overweight and obese and can now pave the way for more research to be done on NAMPT and fat storage in the body. If we can now see how weight gain may start in the first place, then maybe there would be new evidence in the future to learn about other mechanisms in the body for weight gain prevention, that would pose less threat to tissue and organ function for humans.